Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By TATE STEINLAGE
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — In 2009, Matt Besler was a 22-year-old rookie defender for the Kansas City Wizards. Unsure of whether or not he’d be with the club come summertime, Besler made the choice to stay at home with his parents over renting an apartment.
Five years later, the Overland Park, Kan. native is facing another move involving home. Besler can opt to sign an extension with his home club, Sporting Kansas City, or take one of at least two major European offers from clubs in the English Premier League and Bundesliga.
The difference this time around could potentially be millions of dollars.
Besler and his U.S. Men’s National Team partner Graham Zusi took to the podium in Kansas City Sunday to detail their World Cup experiences and, for the former, discuss future plans.
“I think that I’ve made it very clear how happy that I am in Kansas City, how grateful that I am to play here,” Besler said. “That hasn’t changed at all. At the same time, in the position that I’m in right now, you may only get these kind of opportunities once in your lifetime so I feel the need to at least look into potential opportunities and make a decision from there. I’ll be talking with Peter (Vermes) and Robb (Heineman) and some of the other owners potentially and go from there.”
Breaking into U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad in March of 2013 with a surprising start against Mexico at Estadio Azteca, Besler has since become a regular with the National Team. At this year’s World Cup, Besler started all four games for the Americans, logging 346 minutes and 23.5 miles ran despite dealing with a minor hamstring injury.
European teams now calling for Besler’s services comes as no surprise to the defender or Sporting KC. However, that was never the focus for Besler during his time in Brazil with the National Team.
“In my mind, I think we all know that it’s possible,” Besler said about European teams inquiring about a transfer. “You’re playing in a World Cup. You’re playing on the biggest stage. We’ve all seen stories of guys that come in at 18 and have a good World Cup and they’re playing for Manchester United the next summer. We’re all aware of that.
“During the World Cup, it doesn’t go through your mind. You really are just focused on the team and helping the team, especially our team. We’re not an individual team. Our success comes from playing together. I don’t think anyone was really focused on their own career during the World Cup. We were really just focused on advancing as far as we could.”
The decision to make the jump overseas or stay at home won’t entirely be on Besler. The defender is still under contract with Sporting KC through 2015, meaning the team has the right to hold or let go of Besler. And while the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year didn’t provide any timetable on a decision, he did note that the opportunities could all very well be dreams of his.
“It’s a dream of mine to play here. It would be a dream of mine to play my entire career here. That’s one of my dreams, but you have other dreams as well. Maybe one of my other dreams could be to play in Europe. If that’s one of my dreams, that’s something I have to think about. It’s not something you go and decide and choose something. It’s a process and there’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of thought that goes into it.”
Besler and Sporting KC will surely have a number of topics to discuss in the coming weeks about the future, but Besler is optimistic that both sides will do what’s best for his career.
“Hopefully we (Besler and Sporting KC) both have enough respect for each other that we work together through everything but ultimately it’s their decision.”
Should Besler and Sporting KC agree to transfer the defender overseas, or should the Kansas native sign an extension and finish out his career in Sporting blue?
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